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Work At Home

Significant Points
In May 2001, 19.8 million persons usually did some work at home as part of their primary job, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. These workers, who reported working at home at
least once per week, accounted for 15 percent of total employment.

These findings are from a special supplement to the May 2001 Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly survey of households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data on work at home were last collected in the CPS in May 1997; however,
due to changes in the questions asked, much of the data for May 2001 is not comparable with the May 1997 data.

Nature of the Work
Regardless of whether or not there was a formal arrangement to be paid for the work done at home, most home workers were employed in managerial, professional, and sales occupations. Among those paid to work at home,
about half worked in managerial and professional specialty jobs, and
another 1 in 5 worked in sales occupations. (See tables 1 and 3.)

Managers and professionals accounted for a higher proportion (about
three-fourths) of those just taking work home from the job. Schoolteachers
(excluding college) especially were likely to do unpaid work at home, with
2.7 million--or almost half of all teachers--reporting such activity in 2001.
Another 1.3 million persons who put in time at home without an explicit pay
arrangement worked in sales jobs. (See table 4.)

From an industry perspective, workers employed in the services
industries (such as business services, educational services, and other
professional services) were among the most likely to usually work at home
in 2001. Overall, about 1 out of every 5 workers in services usually did
some work at home, similar to the proportions in finance, insurance, and
real estate and wholesale trade. Among those paid to work at home, almost
half were employed in services (1.6 million); for those doing unpaid work
at home, about three-fifths worked in the services industry (6.3 million).

Working Conditions
Among wage and salary workers who were just taking work home on an unpaid basis, the most common reason for working at home was to "finish or catch up
on work" (57 percent). An additional 31 percent reported that they worked at home at least once per week because it was the "nature of the job." For those paid to work at home as part of a formal arrangement with their employer, the reasons were more varied. For example, 38 percent reported it was the "nature
of the job," 23 percent indicated that "business is conducted from home," 16 percent worked at home to "finish or catch up on work," and 11 percent arranged to work at home to "coordinate work schedule with personal or family
needs." Almost half of self-employed workers indicated the main reason for working at home was because their "business is conducted from home," with an
additional 24 percent responding that it was the "nature of the job" to work at home.

More and more employers across all industries are recognising that introducing family-friendly policies makes good business sense. The many benefits to be gained include increased productivity and efficiency flowing from greater flexibility, reduced absenteeism and staff turnover, and recruitment advantages.

Work and family balance is not just a ‘women’s’ issue, as is sometimes supposed. Many men are also finding it difficult to juggle priorities, which for many include deep-seated needs to care for their children. Therefore it is important that organisations design policies which recognise and cater for the particular needs of both men and women.


Other Qualifications


Job Outlook
Between 1966 and 2002 the labour force participation rate of married women increased from 29 to 58 per cent. In June 2000, 61 per cent of couple families with dependents had both partners in the workforce. As a result of these changes the number and proportion of workers who have family responsibilities has increased significantly. With the increase in dual income families, there may be less pressure on men to be the sole provider. This allows men more choice regarding the level of their workforce participation than would have been possible a generation ago.

However, while women re-entering the workforce have sought to juggle work and family responsibilities by working flexibly, men have not done so to the same extent. Men are generally working longer hours, and fathers predominantly continue to work full-time while mothers take on part-time work. In June 2002, about 6 per cent of employed fathers and 57 per cent of employed mothers worked part-time.

Of the 13.9 million wage and salary workers who usually did some work at home in 2001, about 3.4 million had a formal arrangement with their
employer to be paid for the time they put in at home. Nearly half of these paid home workers spent 8 hours or more per week working at home, and about 1 in 6 put in 35 hours or more at home. On average, those expressly paid
for their work time at home logged 18 hours per week at home.
The vast majority of wage and salary workers who do some job-related work at home on a regular basis do so without a formal arrangement to be paid for this work. Of the 10.3 million workers just taking work home from
the job, fewer than 1 in 4 regularly worked 8 hours or more per week at home. Workers doing unpaid job-related activity at home averaged about 7 hours per week.

Related Occupations
Regardless of whether or not there was a formal arrangement to be paid for the work done at home, most home workers were employed in managerial, professional, and sales occupations.

Sources of Additional Information

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